THE COMMISSION on Audit (CoA) has flagged the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) for its low implementation rate of a scholarship program for children of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

The implementation rate for the Project Educational Assistance through Scholarship Emergencies (Project EASE) was 10.26%,state auditors said in its 2022 audit report made available on June 30.

Out of the total budget of P16.64 million downloaded from the central office, only P1.71 million were used,CoA said.

The fund was intended to provide educational assistance to qualified dependents of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are active OWWA members.

State auditors also noted that releases to 61 program beneficiaries received more than the maximum amount set for scholars.

Audit revealed that the low implementation is attributable to the low disbursement of funds obligated for the project,CoA said.

The audit agency added that claims amounting to P816,000 were granted despite lack of supporting documents.

The full realization of the objectives of Project EASE have not been achieved and the validity and regularity of the disbursements cannot be validated,state auditors said.

Project EASE sets an educational assistance worth P10,000 a year for up to four years of college to qualified children or siblings of an active OWWA member-OFW as aid due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

State auditors also noted that unobligated hotel expenses worth P642,000 by OWWAs Northern Mindanao office in 2020 were paid using the 2022 Emergency Repatriation Fund,contrary to Presidential Decree No. 1445 or the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines.

OWWA has yet to reply to an e-mail seeking comment.

The agency has assets worth P19.56 billion and liabilities amounting to P1.98 billion in 2022, CoA said. Beatriz Marie D. Cruz